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Change is everywhere, and is increasing rapidly from new technology and new types of careers to cultural and demographic changes. Canada’s ethnic mix has changed dramatically in just a few generations.

The projections of visible minority groups conducted by Statistic Canada in 2005 suggest that Canada’s visible minority population will grow substantially by the year 2017.

The majority of this growth will take place in Ontario and British Columbia with large concentrations in Toronto and Vancouver regions with some growth in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.

It is projected that with relatively low fertility rates combined with increased immigration, the proportion of immigrants will rise to about 22% in 2017.

Given that the average minority population will be younger then the white population (but not younger then the Aboriginal population) and that immigrants will be more likely to be of working age than the Canadian born population.

Canada will be increasingly reliant on both Aboriginal and visible minority groups to fill the labour force requirements, especially in Canada’s largest metropolitan cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.

The projections for religious diversity are also interesting. Whereas the non - Christian groups formed 6% of the population in Canada in 2001, they are expected to be 14% in 2017. In Vancouver and Toronto this proportion is expected to be 17%. The number of Muslims in Canada is projected to be some 1.8 million while Hindus will number 700,000, Sikhs 587,000 and Jews 400,000.

Adherence to conventional religions has been dropping like a stone. The old-line Christian churches such as United, Anglican are mere shadows of themselves. The Roman Catholic pews are empty accept for Catholic immigration from abroad. St Peter’s Seminary has a handful of Deacons to take the place of retiring priests. The St Joseph’s Order of Nuns for the first time in 15 years has two novices entering the order. The evangelicals such as Pentecostal are on the rise in Canada with off duty police officers trying to sort out the traffic jams in time for the congregants to attend church. They outnumber Jews two to one and the ratio is rising.

As the visible minority population grows and Canada becomes more ethnically, religiously and socially diverse. we should be prepared to embrace positive change in our country. Face the facts that Canada is diverse to-day and will be even more diverse to-morrow is non-negotiable.

If the demographic trend extends beyond 2017 it is clear that the non-white population will grow proportionally faster. Our young people will embrace intermarriage and offer us a peace bridge between the diverse cultures.

Louis Armtrong’s musical refrain "What a wonderful world." seems appropriate. Change will be the catch-word. Canada will be a magnificent rainbow of colours and cultures. A harmonious beautiful mosaic of people who call Canada home. I am looking forward to our future.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com